Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Small Group Resources

Because my commitments have me running in may different directions these days, I am unable to devote time to resourcing small group leaders like I have in the past. What I will attempt to do through this page is aggregate small group resources, tips, training, and articles from a variety of sources that I hope will be helpful. If you’ve come across a blog or resource you’ve found particularly helpful, please let me know and I’ll get it added.

5 Questions to ask before Your Fall Campaign

Posted by on 3:18 pm in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on 5 Questions to ask before Your Fall Campaign

5 Questions to ask before Your Fall Campaign

After directing Sermon based Small Group campaigns for many years I have discovered there are foundational questions we need to answer each year.   This may be your first campaign or tenth, either way, here are some foundational questions you need to answer for each campaign. 1.   What is the goal (hope to accomplish) of conducting this campaign?  It happened a few years ago in our evaluation meeting of the 6-week campaign.  As we sat in staff meeting discussing the campaign no one had any excitement about what had just consumed hours and weeks of our energy.  There was not a clear answer as to what we accomplished in the campaign.  Then someone asked: “What was our goal for this campaign?”  No one had an answer. As Zig Ziglar said ““If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” 2. What is success for the Small Group Leader?  Is it to baptize a member of the group; grow the group larger than any other small group;  enter into a disciple making relationship with a member, start a church; have stories of life change; build community; etc?  All of these are grand endeavors, but clarifying the win for the leader will give them something at which to aim.  Our on-going success goals for a small group can be found at lifepointchurch.org/groups 3. How will we connect the unconnected to a group?  There are a lot of ways to conduct a Connection event and we try something new at least every 3 years.  We help potential leaders think about this question on our “Leader Interest Application.” We help leaders think about the unconnected at the time they express interest in leading a group.  A couple of months before the campaign we begin to promote the connection event to existing leaders to encourage co-leaders to start a group and how they will add to their group. Each potential leader should be able to think of at least 2 couples they would like to invite to their new group. 4. How will we prepare and/or train the leaders for this campaign? This has become a passion of mine as I have watched various methods of preparation succeed in different ways.  One thing I know, the energy and effort I give to preparing leaders before the campaign has never been wasted.  We have given books away to every leader, had Facebook chat sessions, shot videos, used RightNow Media trainings,  brought in speakers/trainers for certain resources and conducted Launch Lunches weeks prior to campaign.  We are currently using a 6-week development process that covers making disciples and leading a group.  This process overlaps our connection event which has encouraged many new leaders after the big event. 5. What do we do after the campaign is over? I learned this one in 2003 but have to remind myself and our team every campaign.  In 2003 our church did the Purpose Driven Life campaign, 40 Days of Purpose.  While this campaign was life-changing for many as well as community-building for the entire church, we did not plan for day 41.  When the campaign ended everyone looked around and asked What’s next? We did not have suggested small group studies nor a daily devotional plan.  We had not taught people how to develop their own devotional...

read more

I am a Small Group Leader: Seasons

Posted by on 7:12 am in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on I am a Small Group Leader: Seasons

I am a Small Group Leader: Seasons

My wife and I started our group 4 years ago. We had lots of expectations and hope that God would speak through us and use us to his glory. We started with 4 family’s and lots of kids. Lots!!! As seasons changed so did the group. One family left and we picked up 2 more. Through more seasons, I wondered what God was doing and if this group was the right fit and if we were growing spiritually. Next thing I know we added another entire group. That made 6 family’s including us in our group. It was crazy. Two of the families were from California. It just so happens that my oldest daughter lives in California and that helped open some doors for conversion and broke down some barriers. Another year went by and a new season for our group.  One family moved back to California and we were down to 5 couples. That’s about the time the doors flow wide open. We were able to do life outside of church and go canoeing or just hang-out with ‘church’ not being the only focus. We also began serving in the homeless ministry, “Room in the Inn” and the “Journey Home Charities”.  We learned “Nothing unites a group like a common enemy or common project.” (see “Common Enemies”) After another year went by, my wife Brandie and I hit a rough spot in our marriage. God opened my eyes even more and giving up on my selfish ways and striving for more of him. I gave all of it to God and let him lead us. Since then we had a young couple with a passion for kids, leave and start serving in church with the kids ministry. Another couple stepped out of our group and started their own small group, which has added other couples and done well. So then we were down to 3 family’s total. More quiet than ever, I keep praying for direction and what we could do to continue this journey. The guys began to have lunch together and even attended the Mighty Men Conference. The ladies were connecting during the week as well. Things were going great. We saw God move in our group as I had the honor of  baptizing one of the ladies in our group. From there I thought wow, it’s ‘ok’ to be small. In January the church launched the sermon & small group series “New.”  I challenged every one in our group about being new this year and how we could grow in our faith. Well things did change. We had another couple called to lead a “New” group. They attended Leadership Camp, wondering if anyone would even join their group.  At GroupLink 2 family’s joined their group and a new group was formed out of our group. God is amazing in the changes he has done in all of our lives through these seasons. But through group we have not only grown as a family, but as a “Large Faith Family” as well. Now we are back down to 2 couples. The journey continues and what God has in store for the next season, who knows. But for his glory, I know it will be another great...

read more

5 Things a SG Leader Needs to Know

Posted by on 6:15 pm in Kingdom, Small Group Resources | Comments Off on 5 Things a SG Leader Needs to Know

5 Things a SG Leader Needs to Know

There are several obvious ‘givens’ when becoming a SG leader: be a Christ follower, lead Bible study, host a meeting often, be nice, pray, …but what about the “Wow, I never thought about that” practical things we need to know.  Here are five which we feel need to constantly be communicated to help keep the Small Group alive and  focused: 1. What is success?  We talk often about the three objectives of our small group ministry: Care, Community and Foundational Bible study.  Small Groups at Lifepoint are the place to be cared for and care for others.  This is the place we can get to know each other and build a feeling of community where we can grow to be transparent and accountable. These help make the foundational Bible study more personal and teachable. 2. What am I doing?  You are a disciple who is making disciples.  To help you in that we have developed a Christ Centered Journey map which shows the stages of a person’s spiritual walk with books, practices, and scripture to enable growth at each stage. Here is the Christ Centered Journey outline. 3. How do I evaluate our group’s growth? LifePoint’s Grouplife wrote a Small Group Health Survey a few years ago and encourage every small group to take the survey at least once, preferably twice, a year.  The survey is based on our 5 Expectations which LifePoint partners with every member/attendee to help experience transformation. This survey shows the weak areas of health for the group and directs the leader to our resource center for their next study.  Other tools we have used are Lifeway’s Spiritual Growth Assessment and the Transformational Discipleship Assessment is also available. 4. What is my role? You are a shepherd (1 Kings 22:17) who needs to calendar ahead. Our experience shows that many groups suffer by not planning.  They wake up Friday and text/email group members asking if they would like to meet Sunday.  That is too late! Don’t plan by the week, plan by the month.  Plan your Bible study times, party/events and service opportunities for the next month, now.  People can usually rearrange their schedules to give priority to small group if they have enough notice.  To shepherd you need to pray for each member of your group, by name, often.  One practice we have is “2 minutes a day and pray on the way.”  Shepherds not only pray for members, they help each other live out the Bible as they guide them on the Christ Centered Journey. 5. How do share what God is doing in our Group?  Sharing stories is vitally important to small group life and community.  Lifepoint’s Groups shares stories via the weekly Communication Report which allows for stories, attendance, service projects and prayer requests…weekly.  Our staff hear how God is at work in our community and leaders are reminded to stay focused on the goal. (See #1 above) What foundational principles would you...

read more

Epiphany: Progressions of SG Leaders

Posted by on 7:46 am in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on Epiphany: Progressions of SG Leaders

Epiphany: Progressions of SG Leaders

As we continue to learn about small groups (SG) and discipleship we continue to make new discoveries.  Here is a recent learning about the progression of SG Leaders: HOSTs: This model worked great for us when we were trying to start as many community groups as possible via a church-wide campaigns.   We realized we needed to help hundreds of adults get connected as soon as possible.  The Grouplink connect event was well attended with 87% of new groups continuing after the campaign.  However, we quickly realized that it would take a lot of training and development to get HOSTs to the leadership level our church expected.  This model launched us into several groups as we began a SG Ministry.  Today many of those groups which started from a HOST led group are still doing life together  . Facilitator: Once the HOSTs had some experience under their belt (6 months plus) they began to operate in the Facilitator model.  They knew enough to allow others to talk and guide the discussions.  They listen to the group voice its’ needs and look for curriculum or projects to help fill that void.  The Facilitator model is not where our leaders hang out long though.  They either resort back to the DVD driven small group and serve as a HOST or they quickly move to the Teacher Model. Teacher:  The Teacher Model has impacted almost all of us in some way.  We can quickly name our greatest teacher…they cared, enjoyed the material as well as the student, and were always prepared for class.  Small Group leaders move to this model as they gain knowledge and receive more training. But the teacher model can also be a dangerous leader model in which to camp.  Left to itself, as David Francis states in “3 Roles to Guiding Groups” states:  “the teacher gets in the rut of doing the same thing each time the group gathers, get to know the Word but fail to know group members, and prefer standing before a large group rather than sitting among the group.” One reason Small Groups were added at LifePoint was to build community.  As God continued to bless LifePoint with new people, we needed people to serve, space for kids to meet…but most importantly Community. Leader: We try to train the leaders to move beyond just getting through the material as the Teacher model might lean (Connecting in Communities, pg 49) and move into a Leader model.  Leaders share the load, visit hospitals, guide service and sometimes are moved to have the hard conversations of accountability and encouragement.  They see their group as a family or team which they guide as a group toward spiritual maturity. Shepherd: Our new paradigm for small group ministry is moving us to seeing SG leaders as Shepherds.  Unlike the Leader, the shepherd takes on the role of an individual coach, helping each member take their next step on the Christ Centered Journey.  They use individual surveys, Christ Centered Journey map, suggested resources, books, websites and ‘coffee’ to disciple each person in their group.  As the disciple grows, they become more missional in their world view and some feel the need to be sent out to start groups or lead ministries. Each of these models of leadership are found throughout our SG...

read more

I am a Small Group Leader: Leading

Posted by on 6:22 am in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on I am a Small Group Leader: Leading

I am a Small Group Leader: Leading

This month’s guest blogger, Milt, has been a leader at our church for several years.  We have been emphasizing the shepherding role of leadership in recent months.  You could replace “leader” with “shepherd” in most places in this blog and gain the realization of what LifePoint Small Groups are about.  As you read this listen to the heart of this shepherd and realize the bigger purpose about which he feels strongly. All of us are leaders, every single one of us lead someone.  It may be in our workplace, it may be at home, it may be at church; but all of us have leadership responsibilities and burdens.  It’s not “Are we a leader?” The question is “What kind of leader are we?”   Think of what that means; someone’s direction in some area of their life is being impacted by you!  Your family, your friends, your co-workers, Do you really want that burden?  How heavy is that?  Whether you want it or not, it’s reality. At the end of the day(s) everyone is responsible for their own decisions. I am not going to be held accountable for the decisions someone else may or may not have made in their life, but I am going to be called into account for the stewardship of the influence that God gave me.  I have a choice to use my influence for God, or to use it for what I want.  So that means that “What I do matters!” I had better choose wisely because there are consequences that echo throughout eternity that come with my action or inaction. Jesus said this in Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (NIV)  It’s not so I can get some glory and everyone can say, “Oh he is such a good teacher, or he is such a good leader” or anything like.  It is so God get’s the praise! People matter to God, so they should matter to me. Here is the bottom line, I believe that the Bible teaches that what we believe and what we do matters.  We are not in some play in which the script has already been written and we are just playing our part.  God is big enough to be in control (sovereign) and yet give us the choice to follow Him and give ourselves to Him.  God’s will, will be done and he knows what we will do, but we are not robots. We need to choose to use the influence that He has given us to impact the world around us whether we lead an organization, a small group, our family or our...

read more

Intentional: Cookout with Neighbors

Posted by on 2:37 pm in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on Intentional: Cookout with Neighbors

Intentional: Cookout with Neighbors

How can I be intentional about building deeper relationships with friends this summer?  The flowers are all in bloom, the allergy season has passed, the temperature rises and grilling out seems to be the natural thing to do.  This summer why not be intentional about building relationships with friends and neighbors.  I’m not talking about trying to build more relationships with new people.  Focus on the social circles your already run in…teams, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.  Take one night a week or a couple of nights a month this summer and invite some friends over and use that deck, patio, pool, swing that you worked so hard to get. Here’s three thoughts on being intentional: 1. Invites: who should you invite?  I would start with a group of people who are my friends but may not know each other.  Invite four or five couples and ask each one to bring their favorite dessert and drink.  You can provide the main course to grill along chips or veggies. 2. Gas, plastic ware & decorations:  Don’t forget to check the grill gas  and have plenty of plastic ware on hand.  Maybe decorate the backyard with colorful balloons, tiki torches, fresh-cut flowers or your favorite decor from Better Homes and Garden. Ok, so all that sounds simple, I know.  But this next step is what makes the evening intentional. 3. Ice breaker Questions: plan to have a couple of questions you would like for people to answer.  My favorites are the ones that share something about the person’s childhood, home life, dreams and/or passions. Remember to sprinkle in spiritual language in your conversation. Sample ice breaker questions: (not for cookouts only :-) ) -When you were a child, what was your favorite room in your house? Why? -What would be your dream vacation and why? -Who was your best friend growing up?  What was unique about them? -If you were rich, what do you think you would do with all your time?    ...

read more

3 Steps to a Neighborhood Block Party

Posted by on 12:53 pm in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on 3 Steps to a Neighborhood Block Party

3 Steps to a Neighborhood Block Party

Each Summer Lifepoint Church encourages families to intentionally invest in their neighborhoods.  Sometimes this is walking the streets, lending a hand, borrowing tools, or cooking out together.  At least once a summer we help them throw Block Parties for fun and relationship building.  Here are three steps we encourage people to take to have a great experience. 1. Develop a team, don’t do this alone!  Several reasons this is #1: it sounds overwhelming to take on such a party by yourself so we eliminate that right up front.  Talk with a couple of other families (from your church or not) and develop a team to manage the party.   Why? Because -You will need families in charge of various items below. -You will encourager more people to attend by including more people in the planning.  -You will still have energy to get out of bed the day after the party. 2. inflatables, donuts eating contest, music, etc:  this is where the creative minds on the team really get excited.  For larger neighborhoods, find out if there is a Home Owners Association (HOA) if so, is there a socials budget?  For smaller gatherings, have team decide on activities, food, timing and entertainment.  Then assign each family some of these responsibilities.  We have 1 or 2 inflatables to keep kids and younger minded dads busy.  Someone is brings chips and grills hotdogs.  The party couple seems to always end up running the games and contests. 3. Email list: I don’t like to have a bunch of people together and not get their name or a way to communicate with them again.  So have a sign up sheet so they can get info about other neighborhood events, needs, emergencies, information, etc.  Keep the communication going because it is a part of building relationships. Good luck!   And please share your Block Party story with me via comments on this blog. Helpful resource for being Intentional in your neighborhood: Making Room for Neighbors by Max Lucado & Randy Frazee      ...

read more

I Am A Small Group Leader: Family

Posted by on 6:10 pm in Kingdom, Small Group Resources | Comments Off on I Am A Small Group Leader: Family

I Am A Small Group Leader: Family

Once a month I will have a guest blogger, one of LifePoint’s Small Group Leaders (Shepherds) share their story in hopes of encouraging and inspiring you.  This month’s story is from Peyton & Elizabeth, a couple who were new to our area but quickly discovered the value of a Small Group Family. “When we joined our first small group, we were new to the area and knew no one. While we wanted to learn and grow closer to God, we really wanted to meet new friends. We were those very selfish, self-centered small group members for a year or so. We showed up when we wanted and when it was convenient for us. After about two years, God, through Eddie, pushed us out to start our own group. This was totally new ground and territory for us. Not only would this require a new level of commitment, we didn’t feel equipped shepherd people closer to God. Through much prayer and study, we made it through and have since been leading small groups for 6 years. We learned that small group and community are so much more than we ever thought it to be. We have learned that we aren’t just part of a small group to learn and grow closer to God, but we are also there to serve our Small Group family. We serve them by sharing with them our walk with the Lord, spending time with them, celebrating in their joys, mourning in their sorrows, babysitting their kids, and helping in whatever way we are needed. We realize that our time isn’t our own. We are here to serve others and to share what we’ve learned so that others might be encouraged and know that they are not alone on this journey. Our heart breaks for our small group now as we constantly pray for them. We have challenged our group that the members really should be our best friends, the people we walk the deepest with and not just people you meet with every other Sunday to talk about God. We want to be pouring in to each other and meeting the needs of our group without even having anyone ask. We want to be that close to be able to anticipate each others’ needs. For us, this means we hang out other than just our “small group” time. We need this time to really dig deeper and find out about each others’ walk. Leading a group of course grows my husband and me also. We are held accountable to be in the Word daily. We have to be examples of servant-leaders, and we have to be honest about our sin and struggles. Being part of a small group and a small group leader has grown us tremendously and God has blessed us with another family through it because our small group truly feels like...

read more

Key Word for Summer: Intentional

Posted by on 6:20 am in Small Group Resources | Comments Off on Key Word for Summer: Intentional

Key Word for Summer: Intentional

Think about the many social circles you run in: family, work, sports, hobbies and community. Are you intentional about listening? Are you intentional about sprinkling your conversations with spiritual language? Are you intentional about discovering where people are in their relationship with Christ? This summer I plan to be intentional about all three of these questions. Over the last few years I have slowed down in what I try to accomplish in a meeting, a day, a community project, and at home. Not because I am getting older. Nor is it because I want to be lazy. It is so I can be intentional, so I can listen and share more about life and eternity. This was a hard lesson learned while on a mission trip to southern Mexico. We were there to install wood cook-stoves in Mayan Village huts. We were told there were 50 stoves in the warehouse, so I took that as our goal for the week (silly American). After watching the missionary install two stoves, my teammate and I took off on our own to install as many as we could on the first day. Halfway through the fourth installation the missionary walked in and said “Eddie, if you would slow down a little I might have time to tell the hut owners about Jesus.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I had missed the intentionality of which we were there for…not stoves, but THE story! Can you identify a couple or two that you would enjoy cooking out with? What about a co-worker or someone on your kid’s sports team? It may be a neighbor whom God has placed on your heart who you already spend time with, but lack intentionality. How could you use three months of your life to be intentional for God in one of your circles? I challenge you to consider being intentional about listening, deepening the relationship you already have with them and sprinkling your conversations with spiritual language. Take time to listen. Offer encouragement to them. For helpful idea s on how to sprinkle your conversation with spiritual language see: Just Walk Across the Room by Bill...

read more

When Faith Intersects with Our Careers

Posted by on 11:09 am in Blog, Life, Small Group Resources | Comments Off on When Faith Intersects with Our Careers

When Faith Intersects with Our Careers

A few months ago, I had the privilege of hearing J. D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in North Carolina, speak about making work Christian. Unfortunately when most Christians think of trying to combine their faith and their careers, they assume they must work for a Christian company, a non-profit, or—at the very least—a company with a not-so-subtle Christianese name (e.g., a coffee shop called "He Brews"). Or, if they can't seem to find a job at the right kind of company, many assume that combining their faith and careers requires sharing their faith in very direct, even awkward, ways. But Greear set the record straight. One fact that he shared completely blew me away. Pointing to Acts, he stated that of the three great church planting centers in the ancient world (Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome), not one was founded by an apostle. Rather, the gospel was spread the furthest by ordinary business people on the coattails of commerce. Instead of specially trained missionaries telling people about Jesus, everyday laypeople were living out a holistic faith that included their business endeavors. Greear's main point was that we church leaders must equip the people in our congregations to live out a similar holistic faith that encompasses every area of their life, including their work. Rather than live out our faith a few hours a week in special places or roles, we must live out our faith every hour of every day. Who better to equip the everyday men and women in our churches than small-group leaders who are living life week-in and week-out with them—and are most likely laypeople themselves? So I want to point you to a few resources that can help: Redeeming Work Events from Leadership Journal These one-day events happening around the country (beginning in Chicago on March 13) will explore the latest research and biblical scholarship on faith and work and how to recapture a theology of vocation. Hear great speakers as they address how to equip people to live out their faith every hour of every day. Register today! Serving God in Our Jobs, by Amy L. Sherman This article fleshes out a biblical theology of work. Use it to clarify your own understanding or hand it out to group members to start a conversation about faith and work. Christians at Work, by J. D. Greear This article explains five qualities that make work "Christian" and puts to rest many assumptions about what it looks like to combine our work and faith. Praying for Our Work, by MaryKate Morse This article features prayer exercises to help your group members connect their faith and work. It's a great way to explore this topic. As a small-group leader, you are perfectly poised to help your group members understand this concept and begin living out a more holistic faith. Let us know how you're equipping your group members in the comments...

read more